“I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance starred as best friends and frequent partners-in-crime Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz. But the two were also friends in real life. The sitcom ended up being the start of a beautiful friendship.
Sadly in 2021, neither Ball nor Vance is around to comment on their endearing friendship. But last year, Ball’s daughter Lucie Arnaz discussed her mother’s friendship with Vance. In a KMC Chat, Lucie said that Vance was always around when she was a kid growing up. In fact, she ended up becoming like a surrogate aunt to Ball’s children.
Both Ball and Vance always seemed like sisters to a young Lucie Arnaz.
“I grew up with her around a lot. My mother and Vivian were really good friends in real life,” Arnaz said during the video. “They really were good friends. Like sisters good friends, tell each other exactly what’s what good friends. And they adored one another. Vivian was one of the funniest people on the planet – truly, truly funny. And when she would get together with my mother, it was lovely.”
Sometimes, Vivian Vance even offered Lucie Arnaz career advice. She encouraged the young actor to not rest all her laurels within television. Instead, she encouraged Arnaz to pursue theatre whenever possible and to keep branching out as an actor.
The ‘I Love Lucy’ Stars Said Goodbye
Both of the “I Love Lucy” stars remained friends for the rest of their lives. But in 1979, Vivian Vance realized she was dying from a combination of both breast cancer and bone cancer. She called for Lucille Ball to visit her for one final time.
“We had brought Viv down and she was lying on the couch in the living room. They ate lunch and they talked and talked. Viv knew she was dying,” Paige Peterson told People. In Vance’s final days, she befriended the actor. Peterson was on standby in case Vance needed her but she mostly stayed out of the way of the actors. But Peterson remembered how the visit broke Vance’s spirit. “The pain on her face shook me to my core. She was in tears. She couldn’t speak. I think Viv gave up after that.”
Likewise, Lucie Arnaz said that her mother’s grief was great and immense. For months, Lucille Ball mourned Vance’s death. On the day she died, Ball lost one of her closest friends and confidantes in all the world.
“She cried about losing Viv for months after that,” she told the outlet. “Viv was, in many ways, like a sister to my mother. She could talk to Mom like nobody else, and I don’t think my mother could confide in many people the way she would with Viv.”